There was once a time in my life, when I constantly moved furniture. Everything would feel homey and inviting until one day I was sure it all needed to be rearranged and after a back-wrenching day I would fall back, satisfied and watch as the family staggered and groped their way through the new changes. (Always funny until I came back from vacation to find my visiting mother had rearranged my kitchen) I finally outgrew the furniture moving phase of my life and began rearranging barns, arenas and kennels. Randyman, fine fellow that he is, always obliged me as I reconfigured everything to accommodate my teaching and training. The arena was stretched to accommodate the jumping horses, mare motels were moved from the ranch to the residence and back, gates were changed, new gates were made, things were squeezed to contain the horses for special needs riders, split to accommodate the trail obstacles and so on and so forth. Oh the good old days!
These days things are a little bit simpler. Well..sort of. Changes are always in motion as I try on different combinations to see what is going to best work in the future. Now that Cletapotamus and Bruno are with us, protecting the stock, the chickens get to free range. We have 30 more meatie chicks arriving in April for Cletus to raise and they, of course, will be outside again, as they are enormous, pooping machines. EmmaLouMoo will have to be dried up around that time, so they will get to inherit her small corral and shelter.
There are plans for a really big production vegetable garden this year, new fruit trees have been planted, along with a grape and I THINK I have a currant bush on the way...perennial flowers have been planted and I have already got seedlings started so the chickens and dogs had to all be evicted from the back yard. The pups love to run through everything and Cletus has a hole digging fetish. Their first year, I fell into many bottomless pits as the snow gave way above them when I passed over on the way to feed the critters.
There is a low fence by the chicken/lambing shed one one side of the yard, but the other has only pipe corral panels which both chickens and dogs negotiate without too much problem. My plan was to put wire there and effectively lock the chickens out, let Bruno or Cletus chicken spend their days in the new ‘chicken corral’, while the other goes out in the back pasture with the sheep. Randyman took the 6’ high heavy duty chain link kennel panels and gate and used those to wall off that side of the yard. It was perfect. I could access the chicken pen, use the alley to run goats or sheep through, and lock everyone in, or out, as I choose.
Triumphant, I finished milking Emma and headed to the house. A short time later I peeked out the window to see Stickman, the Blue Andalusian rooster, two of the Speckled Hamburg psycho hens and a Rhode Island perusing my yard, digging up flowers and pecking their way through my newly transplanted black berries. Randyman had wondered if they would go over the low 4’ fence or not. They didn’t. They FLEW over the 15’ high roof of the shed!!! As soon as I get an accomplice, we will be sneaking into the hen pen by night and clipping some wings.
I will never accept defeat.
Other than the rebel girls flying into my yard, things went swimmingly well. Bruno had chick duty and Cletus was out in the 'back 40' watching sheep. I thought, with them suitably contained, that I could safely ride the 4 wheeler up to the ‘mail room’ where our mail is delivered. I no sooner arrived, than 2 big Polarbears were at my side. I have NO idea how they got out. Cletus, I know would be able to access holes in the fence as that 20 acre pasture has several, but Bruno was definitely contained. He had to scale SEVERAL fences in order to get out. What was the MOST scary, is that he got to me so quickly! It became clear to me that they are staying where I put them, out of obedience or choice, not because they cannot escape. I guess thats a good thing. I returned them to their posts. Bruno found a nice spot in Emma’s corral to nap while the chickens pecked through the straw in her shelter and Cletus went halfway down the pasture and laid down with the sheep. Gotta love these dogs!
This morning it was windy and snowing when I got up. I was a little late getting out to milk EmmaLou and Randyman had already fed. Rosemary complained about needing her bottle but her gut was SO distended when I saw her, I was afraid she was bloating like her mama had. I carried her into the house and found a dosing gun. I got some baking soda water and some oil into her and the distention started to go down. As I am sick, and its so cold out, I decided she needs to stay with me for most of the day so I can keep an eye on her. It only took a few minutes for her to stop crying about being removed from the flock. She began to follow me all around the house, through the kitchen, into the pantry, on through the bedroom and bathroom...She is happily settled at my feet, like a dog. I am pretty sure I am creating a monster, but she seems quite content. Cider could surely use some lessons from her on how to heel.
As she is having some difficulty negotiating between the sofa and the trunk, I may have to rearrange some furniture...